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SCOTUS begins issuing new opinions, with another expected related to the power of federal agencies, the battleground state of Wisconsin gets a ruling on alternative voting sites, and coastal work is being done to help salt marshes withstand hurricanes.

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The Supreme Court for now protects access to abortion drug mifepristone, while Senate Republicans block a bill protecting access to in-vitro fertilization. Wisconsin's Supreme Court bans mobile voting sites, and colleges deal with funding cuts as legislatures target diversity programs.

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As summer nears, America's newest and largest international dark sky sanctuary beckons, rural job growth is up, but full recovery remains elusive, rural Americans living in prison towns support a transition, while birth control is more readily available in rural areas.

Groups 'Disappointed' Salmon Not Part of Columbia River Treaty Talks

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Thursday, February 28, 2019   

BOISE, Idaho – Columbia River Treaty negotiators from the United States and Canada are meeting in Washington, D.C., and Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, has said the environment and endangered species aren't a priority in those discussions.

That has groups who want to save Northwest salmon from extinction concerned. Conservation and tribal groups have been pushing for modernization of the treaty so that it takes the river and its tributaries' health into account.

Marie Callaway Kellner, water associate with the Idaho Conservation League believes while a new agreement wouldn't save salmon completely, it could play a big role in their return.

"The Pacific Northwest – and really, Idaho – is greatly impacted by the pretty dismal plight of salmon and steelhead right now," said Kellner. "So, the idea that one of our two senators is not using this opportunity to speak up for those species is disappointing."

Risch is playing an important role in talks as head of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He has said the treaty will continue to focus on flood control, irrigation and hydroelectric power.

Conservation groups counter that a sense of urgency is needed to address declining salmon numbers, as the fish have been returning to Idaho at historic lows.

Today (Thursday) is the second day of talks.

While the first Columbia River Treaty in 1964 focused on flood control and hydropower, Kellner noted that a lot more has been learned since then about river management.

"One of the things we've learned is, the way that we were operating many of our river systems has now caused numerous fish species and other species to be endangered, and many on the brink of extinction," she said. "And so, this is an opportunity to bring more resources to bear in rectifying that problem."

The two countries are halfway through a decade-long renegotiation process. In 2024, either country can withdraw with ten years' notice. Kellner said there's still plenty of time to include the environment in discussions.



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